Fico Fellove circa 1980?
After I read Jeffrey Keenan's book, Benning's War, I thought maybe I'd give fiction a try. I was thinking about writing short stories, but what to write about?
At the same time I had been reflecting on Andy Garcia's film The Lost City and I realized that where the movie ends is really the beginning of Fico Fellove's new life. I began to speculate about what Fico's life may have been like as an exile. And pretty soon I had the outline to a continuation of his story.
As you may know I recently took a trip to Alaska. Now, I'm a night person, especially on vacation but the passengers on this Alaska cruise weren't particularly night owls. The casino closed relatively early every night for lack of players and you could fire a cannonball through the bars and the disco after midnight and not hit anyone. So with nothing else to do, I wrote.
I have written 10 chapters so far, and I think it will probably be double that when all is said and done. This is kind of an experiment. I will be posting the story in a serialized format over the coming weeks. Keep in mind I am not a professional writer and this work has not been edited by anyone. Some of what I have already written may change, even after I post it.
This is not intended to take away from the movie in any sense and is only one man's interpration of what may have happened to the characters in the film. That's why it's "A continuation" and not "THE continuation".
I realize that I am taking a huge liberty with the story, so I warn you, you may not want to read this. I remember growing up I saw a very good film called Highlander. Later they made a sequel and it was garbage. In Highlander 2, the filmmakers basically said "everything you saw in the first movie, forget about it. This is what really happened." Believe me I wish I had never seen part 2.
I promise that if you do decide to read the following, that I will NOT ask you to forget what happened in the movie. I am trying to stay to true to history of the characters. That means if you haven't seen the movie some aspects of it will be revealed, including the ending. If you don't want to know the ending of the movie, I suggest you stop reading here.
So now that you have been sufficiently warned...
Fico Fellove sped down the streets of Coral Gables; the convertible top of his Alfa Romeo was down. It was a perfect day for it, the kind of weather that the top brass at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau wishes it could bottle. Fico was always fond of convertibles, he had owned several in Cuba, and he was finally able to own one again. It hadn’t been a matter of money, as the owner of the successful Club El Tropico in New York for more than 15 years, he could certainly afford it but the weather in New York wasn’t amenable to convertibles. In fact, the New York winters were one of the main reasons he finally decided to sell El Tropico and move to Miami. The truth was that Fico was born on a tropical island and he never really got used to wearing heavy winter coats, shoveling snow and scraping icy windshields. But there were other reasons too. His mother was getting along years and he wanted her to be close to the rest of her family.
Doña Cecilia Fellove had been living in her son’s home since 1965. Don Federico, Fico’s father, had died in 1964. Officially it was “natural causes” but Fico knew it was a broken heart that took his father’s life. He had lost two sons to the Cuban Revolution, he had been separated from his surviving son and worst of all he had lost his country to a tyrant. Don Federico was a patriot and had been an outspoken critic of Fulgencio Batista. El Viejo would bitterly joke later that Cuba went from “Guatemala to Guate-peor,” literally out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Fico wasn’t able to attend the old man’s funeral. Actually he couldn’t bring himself to. He had made a promise to himself that he wouldn’t set foot on Cuban soil until it was free of Fidel Castro’s rule. He made arrangements for his mother to come to United States, in the Camarioca boatlift, and join him in New York. But after 10 year she had grown tired, and the flights to Miami to visit friends and relatives were getting to be too much for her. So Fico moved his family, which now included his wife Susan, his Daughter Susie and his two sons, Federico Fellove III, who preferred to be called “Fred” --the anglicized version of his name-- and Luis to Miami in 1976.
Susan was seventeen years Fico’s junior and had once been one of his students. He had been an adjunct professor of music at NYU and she was a star pupil. He was instantly attracted to her and the feeling was mutual, but he refused to act on the impulse to ask her out, until she graduated. Three months later they married and nine months after that Susie was born. Susan was an Americana, a Yanqui and truth be told, that was another reason Fico wanted to move to Miami. His children were growing up American-style, which was fine, but he was determined that they’d retain at least some of their Cuban heritage. Susan understood Fico’s desire, she always understood Fico. Besides they’d be a lot closer to her own parents that had retired to Sarasota.
Fico parlayed his NYU teaching experience into a full-time professor’s gig at the University of Miami Music School. As he entered the faculty parking lot on this glorious morning he had a vision in his mind’s eye that he couldn’t shake. It was Aurora Fellove, his first real love. Fico never lacked for female companionship but it was Aurora, his own sister-in-law, that captured his heart.
When his brother Luis was murdered at the orders of Batista’s goon, Colonel Candela, in retaliation for a bold but doomed attempt on the dictator’s life in the Presidential Palace, his young and beautiful wife Aurora became a widow. Fico and Aurora mourned Luis’ death together and soon the mourning turned into courtship. They dated seriously immediately before and after the “triumph of the Revolution.”
Then things began to change. Aurora, like many Cubans, got caught up in Revolutionary zeal and came under the spell of the promises of Fidel and Che Guevara. Her husband had died for the Revolution and she was going to try her damndest to make sure he didn’t die in vain. For Fico the Revolution was a disaster. It was as if he could no longer breathe. He was a club owner but he was also an artist and there was no room for independent thought in the new Cuba. The bitter fact was that he had loved Aurora more than she loved him. So he came to the United States and she stubbornly remained behind.
Those first few years after Fico arrived in New York he would dream about Aurora. Often he’d wake up with her face etched in his consciousness and he would swear that he could even smell her in the bed next to him. Then the dreams came less frequently, and after he met Susan they stopped altogether. He hadn’t even thought about Aurora in years. But this morning he awoke in a sweat. She was there again. He couldn’t shake the thought of her while he showered shaved and dressed. And even now she was taking over his thoughts as he set the emergency brake and put the top up. “Enough,” he thought to himself, "That’s ancient history. No need to entertain those thoughts anymore."
Index of Chapters
Fico Fellove circa 1980?